Official promises action on arrears
Vice-Minister of Construction Huang Wei Thursday pledged to tackle arrears in the payment of construction costs and migrant workers' wages.
"The arrears issue has not only severely hampered the healthy development of the construction market and social and economic order, but would also lead to social instability," Huang told a press conference.
By August 6, almost all wages owed to migrants workers last year were paid and more than 87 per cent of the 32.3 billion yuan (US$3.9 billion) owed for work before last year had been paid, Huang said.
Huang said that 30 million of the 38 million people employed in the construction sector are migrant workers from rural areas. Their wages account for 40 per cent of their family incomes.
Many problems still exist in dealing with the arrears in construction costs and migrant workers' wages, he noted.
First, the overall progress of clearing up the unpaid wages is slow and unbalanced between different regions.
Second, arrears in government-invested projects, particularly public utility projects and education projects, remain serious and the clear-up process is slow, Huang said.
In some places, the arrears were cleared up, but new defaults appeared due to the poor management of projects and malpractices in the investment and operation of many construction companies.
China's legislation departments and relevant ministries are introducing more laws and regulations to stop these problems, said the vice-minister.
"China's legislature is revising the construction law," he said. "The Ministry of Construction will co-operate with other ministries, such as the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Ministry of Finance, to draft another nine regulations to regulate the payment system to migrant workers."
Other measures include establishing a nationwide credit system and tightening curbs, such as organizing supervision panels in the construction industry to cut the amount of future defaults, Huang said.
Answering a question on the construction projects for the 2008 Olympic Games, he said the project funds are now in place and migrant workers will not suffer from wage arrears as a range of preventive measures have been taken.
For the Beijing 2008 Olympic, China needs to build a total of 37 gymnasiums and stadiums for holding competitions, 59 sports grounds for training, and many other places to accommodate athletes and visitors.